In trying to complete their film on the Lund hippie era entitled End of the Road, Tai Uhlmann and Theo Angell came to the end of the road.
So, the husband and wife filmmaking team went the way of many new ventures, signing up with Seed&Spark, a film-specific crowdfunding website. The filmmakers are requesting $60,000 to complete their project, documenting Lund hippiedom and the community’s reaction to it through Super 8 film taken during that time period, plus photographs and latter-day interviews and events.
The opening of the 45-day crowdfunding campaign coincided with Uhlmann and Angell’s Peak interview. Three minutes after opening, there had been a donation, and the total, as of noon, Tuesday, April 7, stands at more than $12,000, or 20 per cent of the funding objective, with 39 days to go.
End of the Road has deep family roots. Uhlmann, who spent her childhood and youth in Lund, said her parents shot all of the Super 8 film footage that has been used so far. She and her husband are trying to procure more to show the unique flair that characterized the community in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The filmmakers have already accessed a number of still photographs from various photographers taken in the era including Uhlmann’s mother Ronnie and Lund-area photographer Fred Pihl.
In addition to the hippies, the filmmakers are also interviewing the children of the counterculture nomads—Uhlmann’s generation—to “get some perspective on how utopia works,” she said, laughing.
“My parents rejected the conformity of the '50s, as did everyone who was involved in the '60s’ movement,” Uhlmann said. “They moved out here to be back to the land.”
Uhlmann and Angell have encountered some hesitancy in Lund from some people from the '60s’ era who would rather not talk about it.
“You do a lot of things in your 20s,” she said. “You might have affairs and do lots of drugs and get filmed naked and now its: ‘yeah, I really don’t want my grandkids to see that.’ However, there’s more than enough people with stories to share.”
Angell said he is also looking for people with stories to share who weren’t hippies but had humorous run-ins or exchanges with the influx of this group of young and idealistic people.
End of the Road began in 2008. The filmmakers felt people who would logically be the subjects of the film were getting older so they wanted to capture the stories now.
“We started interviewing people but we lived in New York,” Uhlmann said. “When we decided to move out here, part of that was to be integrated with the community. We started filming at events. We’ve done some more interviews.
“Now, we are planning a Lund reunion for the hippies so that kind of put a fire under butts.”
Angell said they want to interview more people. “We have 25 people on our list,” he said. “We’ll interview them up until the reunion, shoot the reunion and call it good.”
At that stage the editing will begin, with the hope to have the film complete by winter 2016. The plan is for a feature-length film. There will be about 40 interviews, and even if they are only a minute long, with the other planned footage, it will be difficult to cut down the feature to less than 90 minutes.
The Lund filmmakers have put together a trailer for the film and there have already been about 10,000 views of it on their Facebook page and from YouTube.
“We finished the trailer and it started to go viral, ”Uhlmann said. “People started passing it around. We hadn’t intended for that to happen.”
Without additional financial help, however, End of the Road could not grow into a full-length production and would not see the silver screen.
“Crowdfunding allows independent filmmakers like us, without the backing of Hollywood producers, to make movies that we’re passionate about,” Uhlmann said. Something as “random as the hippies in Lund,” where only people attached to that story would think of making it, would likely not receive the green light from traditional film financiers, even if the production might have a much larger and broader appeal that a Powell River audience.
Uhlmann and Angell believe there is an audience beyond this region. A significant portion of the hippie immigration was from the United States, so it’s believed there’s large potential viewership stateside. Uhlmann said there is also interest in the era from the United Kingdom and Germany, whose residents enjoy alternative life and culture.
In their Seed&Spark video, Uhlmann said the hippies left their lives elsewhere as draft dodgers, protesters and back-to-the-landers. They were looking for utopia and found it in Lund. They built houses and experimented with life and psychedelics.
“They are still here and they have infiltrated the larger community,” she said. “They are doctors, teachers, community members, masseuses. They didn’t burn out. They maintain their idealism and ignited a whole new generation of people to move here.
“Even if you’ve never been to a hippy birth, a hippie wedding, or peed in an outhouse, you are going to want to see this film.”
While Angell did not grow up in Lund, he feels an affinity for the time in the community’s history that he is documenting. He grew up in a Baptist Church environment and was shielded from a lot of the components of the Lund way of life. However, as he became older and was exposed to some of that “classic hippie stuff,” and he was drawn to the lifestyle.
Uhlmann said when she lived in New York and San Francisco, she realized her life growing up in Lund had been different than many people’s upbringing, given their reactions to her story. Eventually, it was time to return home.
“We had kids, and when you start seeing the world through baby eyes, it looks really different,” Uhlmann said. “The city is not so appealing and we want to live and bring up our children in nature.”
Uhlmann said one of her favourite quotes explaining her chosen homestead is from a resident who says: “‘the '60s are over, but they are not as over here as they are in some places.’ That kind of sums it up,” Uhlmann said. “I think Powell River is what it is because of the influence from that group of people. They really transformed this community.”
In terms of the skills to produce End of the Road, both Angell and Uhlmann have worked in the film industry. The budget from the crowdfunding resources is planned for filmmaking gear, editing and interviews.
Donors to the crowdfunding campaign will receive incentives for their contributions. People providing $50 will receive a set of five original postcards by Angell; larger donations will include T-shirts, or a coffee table book of pictures. Donations of $5,000 or more will provide for an associate producer credit on the film and a donation of $10,000 or more will ensure the donor is listed as an executive producer. Everyone will be thanked publicly and will be listed in the film’s credits.
Uhlmann said in order for funds pledged to Seed&Spark to be released, the campaign has to raise at least 80 per cent of the budget, or $48,000.
There are several End of the Road links that may be of interest to readers. Visit the Seed&Spark site to watch the pitch video and donate to the film. To see the trailer and learn more about the film, visit the filmmakers' website. The Facebook page contains the trailer and updates.